Snowy, smoky mountains flexing muscles

Published 6:41 pm Sunday, December 17, 2017

As we write, the amazin’ blonde and I are looking out over the snow-covered Smoky Mountains for the first time — we, along with Glory and Coca-Cola Mike.

We even joined up a time or two with Coca-Cola’s sister Shirley and her husband “Whoop.”

I say “snow-covered,” although “snow-sprinkled” may come closer to the truth.

We waited for snow all week long, as the newscasters predicted snow, the residents and guests hoped for snow, and the clouds even promised snow — but, as of Thursday morning, no actual snow has fallen here in these foothills, although there are remnants of snow walking through the valley a few days ago.

But a climb up the mountains presented a far different picture. A “snow storm” generously left behind clear footprints for us to admire on this latest Smoky-Mountain excursion. The four of us took a ride up one day, and the mountains flat showed off, displaying long icicles hanging down from rocky battalions, fields of snow half a foot deep, snow sprinkled on tree-tops like powered-sugar, and snow-covered rocks looking down cheerfully on the churning streams that splash around them.

It was quite a scene, and the amazin’ blonde and I jumped out of Coca-Cola Mike’s van at every turn to get a picture.

Sometimes she would have the unfortunate circumstance of getting a little ball of snow down her neck before she got back in the car — and outside a little trauma of having to holler “Stop it, stop it,” she survived the ordeal without a scratch.

Even as we write now, we are doing something we’ve never done before: sitting out on the hotel balcony in near-freezing temperatures, looking out over the Smokies, listening to the cheerful churning stream below saying “good morning” in a constant murmuring. Unlike us, those streams are even cheery in the morning — and they are about the same in the evening, too, and about any other time for that matter.

They don’t buy into mood swings at all.  They roll along as if their only purpose in life is to remind you that some things may change, but we don’t.

“If you want a reminder of something you can always depend on, just come out and listen to us for a while,” they say, “and we’ll be the same today as we were yesterday, and the same tomorrow as today. Count on it.”

Now, that’s something. I can’t help but think some of us could use a drop or two of that.

Even the snow — in its grand beauty — will kind of melt away, reluctantly, but the murmuring streams stay put.

Still, one of our longtime goals has been to absorb a bit of the Smokies while the snow was down visiting, and we had that little blessing this past week.

We’ve seen the glory of the leaves-changing season a time or two, and now we’ve seen a snow blanket wrapping up the mountain like the warm-covered “bear” throw the blonde bought this week. We’ve even seen icicles as tall as a man hanging down from the glassy rocks.

The only thing we haven’t seen — much to the amazin’ blonde’s chagrin — is a bear. Not that she hasn’t lamented the fact. We’ve heard people in shops say, “Oh, we saw four or five cubs right where you’re standin’ jus’ day ‘fore yesterdy.”

Those revelations do little to appease the amazin’ blonde. But I am confident she’ll see her bear before long, although I don’t know what she’ll do. If she screams when she encounters a little snowball down the neck, I can’t imagine what she’ll do when a bear walks up.

I’m looking forward to the moment, but for now I think I’ll just appreciate the snow-covered fields and trees and admire the icicles flexing their frozen muscles.

Steven Ray Bowen is a former Granger who lives and writes in Red Oak, Texas.